Well, friends, have you had any homegrown produce yet this season? With the warmth and moderate rain we have had, the zucchini is great so far! This is the time of year when you walk in to the breakroom at work you are met by a big basket of zucchini and a sign that reads “free…Help Yourself”! Zucchini is one of those plants that, when it flourishes, it does so to excess! If you have ever grown zucchini, you really understand what it means to share. Anyone I have ever known that has grown zucchini (even just one plant), usually finds themselves with an overabundance of those long green squash.
Summer time is such perfect time to enjoy the bounties of a great garden, and it is an even better time to get creative with those fresh veggies! Sautéing veggies is always good, but how about cooking them on the grill or under the broiler? I like to slice my firm veggies (like zucchini or yellow summer squash) into thick slices, toss them in an herb infused olive oil and grill over a medium heat until they are tender. You can also cut your veggies into chunks, toss in that yummy herbed oil and then thread on skewers. Grill them over a medium heat, turning to get grill marked on all sides. If you have a grill basket or tray, you can cook smaller pieces of veggies without having to worry about them falling through the grates.
Fresh veggies can also be added when making terrific sweet treats! Everyone loves carrot cake, but don’t forget about the tasty treats you can make with that big basket of zucchini you have sitting on your counter. Zucchini bread may be the first thing to come to your mind, but you can shred zucchini (and yellow squash) and mix it into many different dishes. Lemon zucchini scones are a wonderful breakfast treat, as are orange zucchini muffins. Much like I have suggested adding applesauce to baked goods, you can add shredded zucchini to batters and doughs to add not only moisture, but a little extra nutrition as well. Add a little shredded zucchini to your pancake batter for texture, moisture and vitamins! I remember my Nana adding zucchini to her chocolate cake…it was the most-moist cake you could find! An important thing to remember, however, is to peel your zucchini before shredding if you plan to add it to a light colored batter or dough. While I like to keep the peels on for color in some dishes, if I want to keep that addition a secret, I don’t want green specs showing up! Another suggestion I will offer is to allow your shredded zucchini to rest in a colander for 20-30 minutes before mixing into batter or dough; sometimes zucchini are wet and you won’t necessarily want that much extra liquid in your recipe!
As with anything we eat, you never know exactly how something new will work out until you try, so don’t be afraid to get creative and add some home grown goodness to a favorite recipe this week!
Lemon Zucchini Bread
1 cup vegetable oil
¾ C greek yogurt (vanilla or lemon)
1 T lemon juice (fresh squeezed is best!)
2 C sugar
3 C flour
1 t baking soda
¼ t baking powder
1 t salt
2 T lemon zest
2 C shredded zucchini
Preheat oven to 350*
Sift together dry ingredients and set aside. Cream together oil, yogurt, eggs, sugar and lemon juice and zest. Add dry ingredients to wet and mix just until combined. Stir in zucchini.
Divide batter evenly between two greased 8 ½” x 4 ½” loaf pans. Bake for 55-60 minutes (until toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean). Allow to cool 15-20 minutes before removing from pans and placing on a cooling rack. Glaze if desired!
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